Mathieu Michel, Secretary of State for Digitization, and Bart Steukers, future CEO of Agoria, have launched 'Gaia-X for Belgium'. With this hub, they can plug into Gaia-X, the European project working on a European cloud and data strategy. The launch took place at the first pan-European GAIA-X summit.
The cloud stands for a network that, with all the computers connected thereto, forms a kind of 'cloud of computers', where the end user does not know on how many or which computer(s) the software is running or where exactly those computers are located.
Gaia-X is a European initiative that creates an ecosystem of cloud and data services that is supported by European data laws. The aim is to make Europe a leader in the global data economy and to stimulate data-driven business across the continent. Gaia-X is an important step towards a stronger European internal digital market.
The data economy in figures:
- In 2020, the value of the Belgian data economy is estimated at €12.2 billion, about 2.9% of Belgian GDP.
- 133,000 people are employed in this data economy.
- 90% of all existing data have been created in the past 2 years.
- 80 % of the data currently held by companies are 'black data', unknown or unused.
- 60% of Belgian industrial SMEs are already actively collecting data.
- But 40% of these companies are also actively using this data.
Gaia-X is important for Belgium because our open economy benefits from every step towards a stronger European digital single market. Belgium has a strong, growing and export-oriented IT industry, close to the heart of the European institutions in Brussels. The international non-profit association Gaia-X vzw/asbl was founded and is based in Brussels.
The technology federation Agoria will lead the Belgian hub with the support of the FPS Economy and the FPS Policy and Support. "We are very pleased with this initiative around the cloud. With this hub, we want to bring together all Belgian stakeholders around the cloud and represent our country's interests in the project. Belgium also deserves a piece of the cake, and when working on cloud at European level, it is important for Belgium to be the front row", says Bart Steukers of Agoria. "With "Gaia-X for Belgium" we want to create a Belgian stakeholder platform, which will initially be the official connection with the European Gaia-X project, but other cloud projects will also be considered in the future.”
On Tuesday, 26 January, "Gaia-X for Belgium" will organize a kick-off event to bring all stakeholders together for the first time, and to see how Gaia-X can and will work for Belgium. Several Belgian technology companies, such as Proximus, Klarrio and LCL Data Centres, are already responding enthusiastically today.
Guillaume Boutin, CEO van Proximus: “By joining GAIA-X as a first day member and supporting the Belgian hub, we want to play an active role in shaping Europe’s digital future. It is vital for many of our customers to rely on secure and trustworthy data infrastructure that is based on European values and standards. We are looking forward to work with all the GAIA-X members to make this European federation a success.”
“GAIA-X is an important initiative for all European businesses because it will facilitate a stronger focus on data governance, digital sovereignty, privacy enforcement and data ownership towards its citizens. We are honoured to be a Day 1 Member of the organization and we look forward to helping Agoria in bringing the vision and reality of a data-driven society to front-of-mind for Belgian businesses and consumers”, says Kurt Jonckheer, CEO of Klarrio.
Laurens van Reijen, Managing Director of LCL Data Centres: “As a data centre provider we are supporting the initiative of GAIA-X. Co-creation and ecosystems, which are important within the framework of GAIA-X, are already part of the DNA of LCL. We believe our digital infrastructure helps determine the success of the roll out in Belgium.”